Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Empty bottles & where I am now...

"People think you can’t write while you’re high, but I’m sure that’s not true. I loved the tippy-tap of a four-beer drunk, because your self-doubt melts away, and the hounds stop howling, and it almost feels as if you are taking dictation from the universe. After I quit drinking, I spent months unable to write. I would literally spend hours staring at a blank screen — typing phrases only to erase them again — and I would long for the late nights in a smoke-clogged apartment in Williamsburg, when I would be up at 3 a.m. writing so fast that my laptop nearly levitated."
(From "Watching a Spectacular Public Meltdown With Just a Hint of Jealousy" By Sarah Hepola)

To say I used to drink is a bit like saying Cole Porter wrote a couple of songs. I drank heavily from the age of thirteen (a bottle of wine and maybe a half bottle of scotch a week) to about the age of 35 (a bottle of wine, a couple of pints and a half bottle of scotch a day). Indeed, at my worst I didn't just drink, I drank: everything from home-brewed coconut rum (don't ask) to draught sherry from the corner shop (bring your own bottle. Once it was an empty bottle of Matey bubble bath). As long as there was an alcohol content, I'd consider it. "Mouthwash? Sure, why not? Aftershave? A little rich for my tastes, but I'll give it a try." Only meths and Brasso escaped me - and that was more due to a dislike of cleaning than a lack of appetite for cleaning products.

I also used to write. Not just meagre blog posts, but creative, imaginative writing: prose, poetry, plays, anything. I would let words flow through me. When drinking, the self-edit button was off,  and I would get lost in a blurry haze. Time itself would seem to stop and I would come to (usually the next morning, usually hungover) with no idea where time had gone. Ashtrays would look like Pompeii the week after the volcano, empty bottles and cans huddled by the bin like lost soldiers, but there would be shining words either blinking on a screen, or crisply staring at me on a piece of paper.

Of course, much of what I wrote blind drunk -  most of it, even -  was awful: maudlin, incoherent, rambling, bellicose tosh. But in amongst the blind drunk writing was the "mid-drunk" writing. I completed two degrees and teaching qualification when mid-drunk. It helped (or at least it seemed to). My writing was unguarded and honest, but still held a structure, attention. It felt comfortable. Writing was just another function, like drinking, eating, respiration. I never had to think about it, it just happened. And, oh, some of it was good. Even reading some essays, poems and stories back now, I like them, they show that most damning of qualities, "promise" -  but I have no idea where they came from.

For me, sobriety is necessary. My body is wrecked by drinking. My psyche has indelible dents where drinking has crashed into it over and over. I can't go back to it, I just can't. But I miss the ease and comfort of writing drunk. I miss the confidence and lack of restraint. I miss the absence of an editor in my head. And I wish I knew how I could get even half of it back sober.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Earth Movers

Earth Movers

"You and me, we're like tectonic plates,"
she said.

I picture earthquakes of passion-
massive movements of land
creating chaos
in its wide wake-
cataclysmic, total, devastating;
rippling echoes of tremors,
shuddering unstoppable;
I see volcanoes rill and spurt,
hot lava hurled
in a ecstasy of burning.
I feel the ground
begin to sway
under my feet.

(I ask, gasping for air,
grasping for survival...)

"You grate on me."

Monday, 23 January 2012

..have a room of one's own, an independent income - and a clue.

I'm paraphrasing Woolfy, obviously. Mad old bint.  Filling her pockets with pebbles and wandering into the Ouse isn't my idea of fun, but then again, fun wasn't what she was doing it for. Still think she'd  have been quicker drinking from the bloody river, though... 

So, I have, for a long time, forgotten what it's like to write anything other than Facebook posts or half arsed policy responses. Once upon a time, I was creative. I played with words for fun. Now I do unpleasant things with and to words for money. My imagination is in hibernation (unless it really is dead and liquefying like a poorly overwintered tortoise... which is possible. Very possible.) So this is where I hope to try to prod a little life back into it.

I'm not making any promises. This could die a death and be the only post, like a good 90% of blogs ever started, but at least I'm thinking about it.